What’s the Matter – April 2022

For April, what’s the matter, Roland chatted with the director of the large local construction company Nicholson Construction, Richard Nicholson. Photo: SUPPLIED

What is your name?

Richard Nicholson.

What is your occupation?

Director at Nicholson Construction.

What brought you to Ballarat?

My mother! I was born here in 1968 at St John of God Hospital.

What is your favorite place in the city?

My house. Relaxing and spending time with family is ideal. Also, the lake and the botanical gardens. I walk on the lake daily and it is spectacular.

What is your earliest memory?

Around 1972; we lived in MacArthur Street near Lake Wendouree. I remember that the milk was delivered daily by horse and cart; there were streetcars along MacArthur Street. Spent a lot of time around the lake – lots of great memories (some not so good ones including standing on glass and cutting your feet to shreds on entering the lake!)

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Leaving Australia to work in Singapore for two years when I was 24. Ballarat’s move to Asia was a shock! It exposed me to another race and taught me to accept people for who they are. I did not know anyone; no cell phones, no internet, no money for accommodation beyond a week, and no money to go home; and not Paul!

I worked under local conditions for local wages. I learned humility and perseverance; it exposed me to some amazing building projects. I was the young structural engineer, responsible for the design including an underground sewage treatment plant – amazing!

What do you like to cook?

Steak and eggs on toast – not much else. I’m lucky my wonderful wife Paula cooks great meals every night.

What is your favorite smell?

Enclosures open late on summer evenings. Cold air humidity; the smell of harvest stubble floats gently. I stand up and breathe deeply until my head is dizzy from too much oxygen.

Which building would you choose to be?

The Chrysler Building in New York. I love Manhattan and I love Chryslers!

If you could ask your pet one question, what would it be?

The cat – “Why don’t you love me?”

What music do you like?

Pink Floyd – my go-to rock band. I asked to be buried with dark side of the moon in all available playable formats. I like variety – influenced by jazz and blues. Also, Perry Como, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis, Leonard Cohen, Etta James, Dianne Reeves, Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington and Sting, Eagles, Billy Joel, Elton John, Queen – all old classics.

Which person – living or dead would invite to a dinner party?

Winston Churchill. Full of amazing skills and abilities, but at the same time vulnerable.

What technological/scientific development intrigues you?

Social media. I don’t understand how or why people are so fascinated by the opinions of someone hiding in a closet throwing hand grenades. The courage to be out of reach!

What was your first job?

A roustabout shear shed. Now that’s hard work, but boy, the skin on my hands felt great after handling all those fleeces.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

An astronaut. I missed that goal, but at least I got a pilot’s license – the next best thing.

What are you afraid of?

Politics and a communal tendency to look to government to save them from life itself; hearing people suggest that democracy is broken or failing us, and government is the answer. Governments are temporary; democracy is enduring and the only system with a mechanism of self-righteousness.

What historical calamity would you choose to reverse?

The rise and development of communism.

What phase did you go through in high school?

Growing up with four brothers, I was the shy type, desperately trying to be good at something to impress. I was lucky enough to be able to play the drums and catch the attention of young Paula.

What is your favorite book of all time?

In My Youth – L. Ron Hubbard’s battlefield land. A supersonic extension of the star wars series.

Now, I am more pedagogical, historical and philosophical: The Gulag Archipelago, money mischief, art of war, Loyalty: Ten reasons why we are wrong about the world, and 12 rules for life.

Currently, 1950s The origins of totalitarianism – very relevant parallels and lessons for us today!

If you were to die tonight, with no way to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not telling someone?

Not showing greater appreciation for all that Paula does for me. Life is tough and a strong partnership is more effective in overcoming challenges and celebrating rewards together.

About Paul Cox

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